T-SQL Tuesday #012 – Skills

November is upon us and in some areas this also means that the leaves have changed color.  With the change in leaves we also have a change in TSQL Ones…err Tuesday this month.  The change is with good reason as well.  November is a busy month in the DBA world.  PASS is holding the Summit Nov 8 – 11 in Seattle (that involves the second Tuesday).  We have Connections this week in Las Vegas (despite being in Vegas, I won’t be there due to budgetary constraints).  And we have Paul Randal (Blog | Twitter) hosting TSQLTuesday this month.

Paul has chosen the topic of “why are DBA skills necessary?”

You know, like nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills…

Oh wait, maybe I do have some of those computer skills.  I don’t have nunchuku skills though, and that could be useful from time to time.

As a DBA, we occasionally have the opportunity of attracting a new client or a new job or a new database.  It seems that more often than not, some of the skills requisite (at least they should be) of owning a database are missing.

Some of these include:

Backup and recovery of a database
Disaster Recovery
Normalization and De-normalization
Performance Tuning
Server Patching
Proper Storage recommendations
File and Filegroup Creation
Performance Troubleshooting
User and Database Security
And more…

And more…

I want to touch on some of the other skills of a DBA.  These are the skills that a DBA must use in order to be successful (besides knowing the craft).  For me, these skills help make the job just a bit easier and they seem to be present in many of the top tier Database Professionals.  For me, these skills include:  Communication, Participation, Sense of Community, and Drive.  These may also appear as attributes – but I think they are things that a professional can work on and improve on to improve in the work place.


This is a skill employed in many different ways in the profession.  Many have chosen to communicate via blogs and via speaking at events, while others have written books.  This skill is a must have in the day to day business and helps to mend fences between DBA and business as well as DBA and Development.  Learning how to interact with both the positive as well as the harsh feedback is critical to career growth.


As a database professional, it is essential to be involved in meetings and the decision making process.  Just being present does not always mean that you are participating.  Are you engaged in thought of getting out of the meeting or about the next level on Angry Birds?  Or are you listening, taking notes (if necessary), and interjecting comment that is constructive to the meeting?  When a task comes across your desk, what is your reaction?  Do you just do it or do you interface with the requester to ensure that the request meets the needs?  Occasionally it will happen that the requirements do not reflect the true need from the person making the request.  Without talking to that person, a level of frustration is accomplished when you return to them having completed the request but not having fulfilled the underlying needs.

Sense of Community

One of the best networks available to use is the social network for the Database Professional.  There is a good amount of people always willing to help via twitter (#sqlhelp) and online forums (sqlservercentral.com).  A good DBA knows his/her limits and knows that they don’t know everything.  Admit it early and be willing to rely on the community when you don’t know something.  Part of being a good database professional is knowing where to find help and where to find the answer.  This also ties in with the communication skill.  There is no need to memorize every nook and cranny of SQL Server.  Learn how to take notes, create documentation, and how to talk to the community.  This will help you learn more about SQL as well as help you build friendships.


This one is a lot more difficult.  A skill that is helpful in being a better Database Professional is an internal motivation to be better and to create a better database environment no matter the employer or project.  If this means longer hours or making significant changes – then do it.  Sometimes it also means that we need to make a list and present the good with the bad of the environment and then make suggestions on how to improve.  If you are really good and don’t put in any extra effort – imagine how good you could be should you dedicate a few extra hours here and there to becoming a better Database Professional.

Oh and the other stuff

I don’t want to completely ignore those important skills.  There are many accidental DBA’s out in the world due to a database having come into existence.  Many times a database can exist without a DBA due to various variables such as vendor support, little to no activity, or low criticality of the data.  Many times one of these databases eventually explodes into being much more than initially planned (high transaction or high criticality or even reduced vendor support).  At this point a DBA is needed.  DBA’s help protect the data and are an investment for the company.  A DBA can help provide timely information as well as protect the data and ensure business continuity.  For me, it is a worthwhile investment – and not just because I do the work.

In Conclusion

Today is Election Day throughout the United States.  Get out and Vote!

There are elections at SQLServerPedia, SQLRally and then there are also the political elections.

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